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Health Impacts of Foodborne Pathogens
The CDC estimates that 31 major foodborne pathogens detected in the United States cause 9.4 million episodes of foodborne illness each year. Another 38.4 million illnesses resulting from unspecified pathogens are estimated to occur, meaning roughly 1 out of 6 Americans (or 48 million people) may get sick, 128,000 may be hospitalized and 3,000 may die.6 The most severe cases tend to occur in the very old, the very young, those who already have an illness that suppresses their immune system function, and healthy people exposed to an unusually high dose of a microorganism. While significant health impacts of foodborne pathogens occur each year, calculating the actual number of people affected is difficult due to the fact most foodborne disease is not reported.6
Salmonella remains the leading cause of hospitalization and deaths in the United States as a result of foodborne illness.6 Salmonella can be from animal origin, such as beef, poultry, milk and/or eggs, but any food, including vegetables, may also become contaminated.7 Incidence in cattle is on the rise and doubled in dairy cattle from 1996 to 2007, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.8
Economic Impact of Foodborne Pathogens
Many cases of foodborne disease are often unreported, making the economic impact of foodborne pathogens difficult to measure. From 1991 to 1999, beef recalls resulted in an estimate of approximately $1.6 billion in lost demand.2 Between 1994 and 2004, E. coli O157 cost the beef industry an estimated $2.67 billion.2
Salmonellosis can be a very costly disease for producers due to mortality, reduced milk yield, abortion, weight loss, poor feed efficiency and, of course, treatment expenses. Economic losses are also a reality for producers because poor reproductive performance can lead to prolonged lactations, excessive body condition in late lactation, and increased metabolic disease at calving, which may later increase the risk of salmonellosis in postpartum cows and calves.
1World Health Organization. Food safety and foodborne illness fact sheet. March 2007. Available at:www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs237/en/. Accessed February 8, 2012.
2U.S. Food Safety and Inspection Service. Salmonella Questions and Answers. September 20, 2006. Available at: www.fsis.usda.gov/factsheets/salmonella_questions_&_answers/index.asp. Accessed February 8, 2012.
3Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Escherichia coli O157:H7. Updated July 21, 2010. Available at: www.cdc.gov/nczved/divisions/dfbmd/diseases/ecoli_o157h7/index.html#what. Accessed February 8, 2012.
4Scallan E, Hoekstra RM, Angulo FJ, et al. Foodborne illness acquired in the United States — major pathogens. January 2011. Available at: http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/eid/article/17/1/p1-1101_article.htm. Accessed February 8, 2012.
5Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Foodborne Illness. January 10, 2005. Available at: www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dbmd/diseaseinfo/files/foodborne_illness_FAQ.pdf. Accessed February 8, 2012.
6Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. CDC 2011 Estimates: Findings. February 7, 2012. Available at: www.cdc.gov/foodborneburden/2011-foodborne-estimates.html. Accessed February 8, 2012.
7Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Salmonella: Diagnosis and Treatment. September 27, 2010. Available at: www.cdc.gov/salmonella/general/diagnosis.html. Accessed February 8, 2012.
8Salmonella and Campylobacter on U.S. Dairy Operations, 1996-2007. National Animal Health Monitoring Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture. Available at: www.aphis.usda.gov/animal_health/nahms/dairy/downloads/dairy07/Dairy07_is_SalCampy.pdf. Accessed February 8, 2012.
9Cummings KJ, Warnick LD, Alexander KA, et al. The duration of fecal Salmonella shedding following clinical disease among dairy cattle in the northeastern USA. Prev Vet Med 2009; 92:134-139.
10U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. 2012. Inspections and compliance. Available at: http://foodsafety.gov/compliance/index.html. Accessed February 8, 2012.
11Plant Familiarization: Characteristics and Manufacturing Processes – Livestock Slaughter 2008. Available at: www.fsis.usda.gov/PDF/LSIT_PlantFamiliarization.pdf. Accessed February 8, 2012.
12U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. October 2010. The basics: Clean, separate, cook and chill. Available at: www.foodsafety.gov/keep/basics/index.html. Accessed February 12, 2012.
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